It's both possible: You can include libraries with a <script> (i. e. to use a library from a CDN) or include them into the generated bundle.

If you load it via <script> tag, you can use the externals option to allow to write require(...) in your modules.

Example with library from CDN:

<script src=""></script>

// the artifial module "jquery" exports the global var "jQuery"
externals: { jquery: "jQuery" }

// inside any module
var $ = require("jquery");

Example with library included in bundle:

copy `jquery-git2.min.js` to your local filesystem

// make "jquery" resolve to your local copy of the library
// i. e. through the resolve.alias option
resolve: { alias: { jquery: "/path/to/jquery-git2.min.js" } }

// inside any module
var $ = require("jquery");

The ProvidePlugin can map modules to (free) variables. So you could define: "Every time I use the (free) variable xyz inside a module you (webpack) should set xyz to require("abc")."

Example without ProvidePlugin:

// You need to require underscore before you can use it
var _ = require("underscore");

Example with ProvidePlugin:

plugins: [
  new webpack.ProvidePlugin({
    "_": "underscore"

// If you use "_", underscore is automatically required


  • Library from CDN: Use <script> tag and externals option
  • Library from filesystem: Include the library in the bundle. (Maybe modify resolve options to find the library)
  • externals: Make global vars available as module
  • ProvidePlugin: Make modules available as free variables inside modules